How my own sleeping patterns are making more sense since having a baby

I for one have never really paid much attention to sleeping, loved it, need it, done. No analyzing needed on this one, since becoming a mother though, I have come to realize just how vital it all really is, and how complicated it is.

My husband and I always talk about “the sleep window” – this window is that sweet spot where our baby girl is tired enough to go to bed, but not too tired or overtired, we often miss it as you can imagine, so this window is so important to narrow down, for everyone’s sake.

I have since realized that I have a similar “window” for sleep; I get into bed, and if I do not start overthinking on the silliest things, I can go to sleep quite easily, if this does not happen, and I start thinking, it is as if I am not tired all of a sudden. This made me think, it is exactly what happens to my baby, she is tired, gets overstimulated by the smallest thing, and boom; she is alert again (still tired though, and then we go to the dark side – over tiredness).

So now, not only are we vigilantly watching our baby for her “sleep window”, I am now also aware of my own “sleep window” ha ha (as if I did not have enough to do).

For us, the biggest struggle with our baby has been sleep, our household is ruled by nap time and awake time and windows of all sorts, how life has changed since we became parents, I used to sleep in on weekends until about 10 AM, now I am up at 5 AM and by 10 AM i have done so many things, that I could almost fit a whole day in to those 5 hours.

Late nights for me is just not an option; on the one hand, going out and having fun is amazing and sometimes just what you need , but on the other hand, you hate yourself for doing it at 5 am the next morning, so for me, this is just not worth it at this time. I do believe that once our baby can go stay at grandma’s house for the night , this will definitely change !

Sleep is vital not only to our sanity but to our overall well-being, it is what gives us the energy to tackle the next day, and any situation we might face, we do not always realize just how important sleep is to our health, so many studies out there have proven that it helps with metabolism, skin, mental health, and so much more, yet we seem to brush it off because we have too much to do.

So there you go ladies, go have your nap, its vital to your health!

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Facts about a C-Section and a newborn I never knew as First time mom

I might have been a bit naive; after all; I do have a “wing it” kind of attitude towards life, so if you are calculated and plan everything out, then this post will be of no use to you, because you will know all these things beforehand, for me however, so many things about my procedure and newborn caught me by surprise, I was so not prepared for this.

C-Section

  • It is quite uncomfortable to be awake and start naked in front of the doctors and nurses in the theater – I don’t know about you , but somehow, being awake for a surgery was scary enough for me, I did not even think of all the little things that would be so intense, for me, once the epidural was placed and they lay me down on the operating table and took my hospital gown off, I felt like I could just die right there! I have never felt so self-conscious and vulnerable in my entire life, it was horrible (I know doctors see it every day, but still, it was so intense for me).
  • Shaking – I did not know that once that epidural is placed that I would shiver for basically the duration of the whole procedure, and I mean, properly, at one point it was so bad that I could barely speak, the only way to describe it; when you are cold, and you start shivering uncontrollably? For me this was what it felt like, just more intense and for longer. I also still had random “shiver attacks” at night for a few weeks afterwards.
  • Back Pain – I did not know that I would have intense back pain for several weeks after the surgery (due to the epidural) this did go away quickly though.
  • Looking after a newborn and recovering from a surgery is no joke – Although I expected as much; I did not realize just how hard it would be; even though you are no longer pregnant, you still cant bend down, or walk without everything hurting, in fact, new areas hurt now But at least you can take some pain medication now.
  • The pain – To be honest; I expected worse pain from it all, but to me, the only time it was ever unbearable was at 1 am the first night, where I thought I was dying, the rest I could handle.
  • Recovery – Recovery for me was much longer than I anticipated, after the first three days, I felt much better and walking around became easier, but my stomach was still very tender to touch and getting dressed was no easy task, my whole body felt stiff for weeks on end.

Newborn

  • Newborn need to lay on their side – Who knew! In the hospital I placed my baby on her back and the nurse told me to place her on her side to prevent choking on milk or spit up, this caught me by surprise because I did not even think about it that way, but now it makes total sense.
  • Newborns need to have 10 wet nappies a day – This is to ensure that they are eating enough and getting enough nutrients from the milk, change your baby’s nappy before every feed (this also ensures that they are more awake for the feed)
  • Not all babies like to be swaddled – Despite what the experts tell you; not all babies enjoy being swaddled, my baby hated it, she was swaddled for about the first 3 weeks and after that she would scream if we swaddled her and break free, she is 6 months old now and still hates a blanket over her.
  • “Babywearing” is not for everyone – A friend of mine suggested that I buy a sling for my baby as it allows you to get more done during the day; once again, my baby hated every second of it, I ended up with three different wraps just to be sure. Lesson – every baby is different!
  • Your baby does not like bath time or getting dressed – I never thought of it like this; but your baby hates bath time or dressing in their first few weeks of life, the reason for this is simple; they are not used to it, now (well my baby hates when I pull anything over her head), but she loves bath time.

These are but a few examples, but maybe it could help you be more prepared than I was, and not caught off guard, although parenthood will always surprise you in one way or another, maybe you can just be aware of the little things.

There is just never a dull moment when you are a new mom, embrace the chaos!

 

 

 

Your baby deserves a happy mom

Babies feed off their moms, whatever mood you are in, your baby feels it too and it changes their mood as well.

Have you ever noticed the days where you are just happy and relaxed how “easy” your baby is? – That is because they can feel our emotions, luckily, as they get older, you can hide your own personal issues and struggles easier from them with a smile, but when they are little, you are the only source for information they have; I was very upset a while ago, just had a week from hell, and I busted out into tears as I was changing my baby’s nappy, and the next thing, she also started crying, out of the blue, nothing was wrong with her, she just woke up from a nap, it was simply because her mom was upset, and that upset her.

I know as mothers we tend to put ourselves second for the sake of our children , and rightly so; but being unhappy in the long run, only affects them negatively, they grow up with a mom that rarely smiles, that is maybe too busy because she is trying to avoid thinking about the things that are wrong in her life (I speak from experience), and one that finds no joy in the little things.

What we don’t realize is that this sets an example for our children, it sets the “vibe” that they grow up in, and it stays with them, think back; you remember how your household was when you grew up, you can tell people whether it was a happy one, or one with many negative aspects.

So make the hard decisions, make a point of being happier and more positive, not only for your baby, but for you as well, live a happier life, cut out what makes you unhappy and keep what does, life is simple once we decide it is, the mind is a powerful thing, learn to use it to your advantage, after all, your baby does not need a perfect mom, just a happy one.

The things that keep mothers up at night

Its 2 am and I can’t sleep because listening to the monitor; I am not sure if my baby has now turned on her stomach and can’t turn back!

This is but only one example of what keeps me up at night, there are so many nights where my baby is sleeping soundly but, yet I am wide awake with no sleep-in sight. It is like a whole new world at night, one filled with paranoia and anxiousness, it’s like an alternate universe in the early hours of the morning.

If you find yourself here, nothing will make sense, everything that seemed okay during the day, now takes new shape and threatens to destroy the next few days. I personally stress about the most mundane things at night, the moment the lights go out (no matter how tired I am) it starts; do I have enough bottles for the next day, did I take her food out to defrost for the next day, does my husband have clean clothes for work, do I have clean clothes, maybe my baby is too hot, too cold, maybe she is still hungry because she never finished her bottle, maybe I should start feeding her more now that she is older, is her awake time enough, maybe I should adjust that, should she be sitting by now, when will she start crawling, should I help her roll over more often- this list goes on and on, and it also goes on and on in my head.

I have always been a classic over thinker of note, however, now that I am a mother it is ten times worse than before, and there is just so much that I can now spend my time overthinking on.

Unfortunately, this is not a habit that is easily broken, telling a mother to relax and stress less over their child Is like telling a bunny to stop hopping (it is the only comparison I could think of, don’t judge), it is like a new part of me that I never knew existed, all reason leaves the building and I find myself in a constant state of worry.

The Fix

Although there is no “off switch” to being worried about your child, there are certain coping mechanisms to ensure that you don’t drive yourself insane with unnecessary stressing and anxiousness; the first for me was to make an effort to ensure that I have time for myself each day, dad takes our baby girl and I have a cup of tea and just concentrate on my breathing.

My best friend is a medical student, and she educated me on what stress can actually do to your body, most of us don’t even realize that stress can have serious physical consequences if we do not get a handle on it; when you stress too much, your body basically goes into a constant state of “survival mode” – which elevates your heart rate, and that causes that feeling inside of you that makes you feel rushed and anxious (like you have to be somewhere and do something, you can’t just sit still).

In order for your body to calm down, you need to take a break, stress can have serious health consequences, such as; your intestines don’t work like they should, have you ever felt bloated when you are stressed out? – that is exactly what stress does to your body (one of the things at least), and if you want to live long and see your grandchildren, now is the time to stop, take a breath and have some much deserved “me time”.

I know this is not easy if you are like me, I am a busy body, and somehow feel guilty if I just sit around and do nothing, but, like any habit in life, it takes time to break it, and time to form new healthy habits.

Practice makes perfect!

So go and get busy doing nothing, you deserve a break!

Angelique

 

 

The Bond Between Mother and Baby After C-Section

Everywhere these days you see people favouring natural birth, the benefits for both you and baby are endless; recovery, your babies’ strength and the thing we hear mostly is that the bond between you and your child is so much stronger because you both went through this process together.

The problem with this is that life does not always work out the way you expect it to, life happens!

And it is statements like above that make women feel like less of a mother because they had to have an emergency c-section or opted to have one instead of natural birth, women are bullied and shamed for making this choice instead of going the natural way (it is the same with the whole debate about breastfeeding vs formula feeding).

The fact of the matter is that having a c section does not lessen the special bond between you and your baby, I had a c-section, and from the moment she was born there was nothing but love, I still had my skin to skin, I still breastfed for about 8 weeks, she still cried for her mommy and she was still comforted by me. In no way did I ever feel as if my bond between my child and I was not as strong as I hoped it would be, in fact; it surpassed everything I thought it would be, the love I have for her is indescribable and in no way did the way she was brought into this world, affect that love.

I admire women who gave natural birth, to me, having had a c-section; I can’t imagine how incredible that whole process must be, and how amazing and proud you must feel afterwards for having done it and bringing a healthy baby into the world.

But for me, in that moment they cut me open, nothing else in the universe mattered but my baby being healthy and okay, how it happened did not matter to me, how far along I was at the time didn’t matter, how many toes she had did not matter, if I was going to breastfeed did not matter, how much she weighed did not matter, all that mattered was hearing that  first little scream and knowing she is okay, in that moment; I couldn’t care less about myself, when I heard that first cry, the biggest sense of relief washed over me – my baby was okay and now I can breathe.

I have read so many stories about women who are distraught and so disappointed because they ended up having an emergency c-section, and they really wanted to give natural birth, and this breaks my heart, it happens so often where society places so much pressure on moms to do things a certain way, what they think is best for you and your baby, and then when a woman can’t do it that way, due to whatever reason, we immediately feel like we failed as mothers.

I am here to tell you that it is okay, you did your best, and your baby is here, that is all that matters, what they eat or how they came into this world will not matter to them when they grow up, what type of parent you are will! Whether you were there for their first heartbreak, and how you treat them when they make a mistake, whether you spent time with them growing up; these are the things that will matter to them as adults and what they will pass on one day to their own families and relationships.

We must stop focusing so much on these small things and focus on raising humble and kind little humans that we can be proud of, and be parents they can be proud of, in the end these are the only things your children will remember about you when you are gone, not whether you gave natural birth, or had a c-section or breastfed or formula fed.

Be proud to be a mom, embrace it, and be the best you can be every day, and I promise you, it will be enough.

Angelique

3 Tips for traveling with your baby

Traveling with a baby is no small task, it takes careful planning, timing, and a whole lot of patience.

We live quite far from most places, my family, and any major city for that matter, we are about 500 km’s from Johannesburg, which is the closes city to us. Which means, that we must travel quite far and often to see my family and to do some much-needed baby shopping.

My baby girl is used to far trips by now (she is 6 months old), the day we brought her home from the hospital was a three-and-a-half-hour trip, and she has been to see her grandparents and godparents on numerous occasions, and yet, she still struggles with the distance sometimes.

There is no set way to make traveling easier on your baby, every baby is so different, some are just naturally good travelers, while others (no matter how often they travel) just struggle no matter what.

From my experience so far, I came up with some tips that works for us, and maybe for other moms out there that have tried everything else to date;

Timing

Timing, as with everything in life, is everything! Wait too long and your baby is overtired, leave too early and your baby is too excited and gets over stimulated and again – overtired.

For us, leaving when she needs to have her nap has worked wonders for us, she is already drowsy, and we put her in the car, and once we move, within minutes, she sleeps. The constant rhythm of the driving then also makes her sleep longer and she is happy when she wakes up, and we don’t struggle to get her to have her next nap later.

However, life happens, and this type of punctuality is just not always possible, and Murphy’s law will most certainly also ensure that this is not always possible no matter how prepared you think you may be.

The only thing you can do, is give yourself and your baby about half an hour to play around with, this way, he/she is not overtired yet and you don’t have to rush to get on the road.

Bathroom Breaks

For your sanity, don’t rush to your destination, leave early enough so that you have some time to stop along the way, your baby’s body gets sore from being in the same position for long and they get irritated if they cant get up and move around a little bit, which will make your trip feel so much longer (we have tried to just stick it out and get there, but oh boy it just does not work).

Giving yourself and your baby, a break is essential, take him/her out the car and just walk around for a few minutes, do a diaper change and some food if needed, and then continue.

Stay Overnight

Staying over night gives you and your baby a break before heading back again, and a well deserved rest!

Although, finances and well, life, does not always make this possible, so if you need to head back the same day – may the gods be with you.

There is no set way to do this, traveling with a baby is daunting, and quite stressful (even though we do it quite often, it still stresses me out because you never know in what mood your baby is going to be, are they going to eat well, and take naps and be happy once you arrive). It really is a gamble, and every baby is different! Try different things until you find a way that suits you and your baby the best, but don’t let traveling be too scary that you end up staying at home, getting away a little bit, whether it be to see family or friends, or on a holiday; does everyone the world of good.

Babies get stimulated by a new environment, and usually benefits from the general mood of a holiday as everyone is more relaxed.

Safe Travels

Angelique & Paige

 

Days where everything just seems to go wrong

I should rewrite this headline to “weeks where everything seems to go wrong”!

My week in a nutshell

I know I am not alone on this, this week has been the most intense in so many ways and its only Wednesday; we started of with having to make a unplanned trip to Johannesburg (which is 5 hours way by the way) in order to do bio-metrics for our trip to Australia soon, get there, only to hear that they only have an appointment for my husband and not our baby girl, long story short, we sorted it out after much effort!

We then had to stay over because the trip is just to far for our baby, and did another 500 km’s the next morning, got home to find out our water cooler had leaked in Paige’s room and the carpet was damaged, settled and then we heard that my horse’s foal had sadly passed away – this the day before her new owner was supposed to come and fetch the two of them.

All this in a matter of three very long days, and a baby in-between who is out of routine and teething!

One thing I have noticed is that when I am upset, she is upset, how crazy is that? Today I busted into tears while changing her nappy, and she immediately started crying too, I felt so bad that I stopped and so did she, we forget sometimes that our babies’ sense what we are feeling, or if we are stressed or having a bad day, they feed of us when they are this small.

I am exhausted to say the least, you know when one night’s good sleep does not even make you feel better? That is where I am at that point, so I thought I would write about it as this always help to work through issues and just to feel better, you know, put it all out there. Life just sometimes throws these weeks at us just to make sure we still got it – ha ha

Bouncing Back

Apparently, I do, it is amazing how resilient we all are, somehow the sun always manages to come up the next morning and you look at life with a little more positivism.

I always say that it is fine to have a breakdown or to feel down, own it, you are human, and you can’t always be strong, keeping emotions bottled up is so unhealthy for the mind and the soul. The most important thing is to always get up afterwards, brush yourself off and stare life dead in the eye, and smile!

I am so lucky to be surrounded by so many family and friends that are always willing to lend a hand (or an ear) in difficult situations.

My baby girl must know that her mama needs a break today because she is sleeping so well, and giving her mom a well-deserved break to write 😊

Angelique